Monday, 3 July 2017

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 732 29 June 17 THE BOOK OF LOVE

‘God loves me. This I know. Because the Bible says so’, wrote theologian Karl Barth. Spot on, Karl! The Bible is indeed like a divine love letter. Containing the record of God’s steadfast love – Hesed in Hebrew - for humanity. Without love of course it is impossible to live. That’s why the Anglican Church, under the sway of aggressive secularism, is imparting a death sentence to the English people – by ignoring or contradicting the Good Book’s love message. Can you hear Satan’s laughter?

Someone is fighting back, thank Heaven. The GAFKON Movement boldly opposes the collapse of biblical witness in the Church. Along with the moral relativism and compromises attendant upon it. A fellowship of Bible-believing Anglicans from many countries, Gafkon is especially strong in Africa. In the Jerusalem Declaration Gafkon state their unwavering commitment to upholding  faith in Jesus Christ as set forth in the Holy Scriptures. They reject the errors of churches which have repudiated the orthodox Christian faith as enshrined in the Bible. They also provide alternative episcopal oversight and support to disaffected Anglicans marginalised by trendy, faithless bishops. English missionary Bishop Andy Lines has been consecrated for that purpose.

Gafkon is fighting an uphill struggle. Because doctrinaire secularism – what the French term la laicite’ – the absurd, mad dogma that God has to be shut down of the public sphere – has ensured that the knowledge of the Bible is at a low ebb in ex- Christian countries like Britain. Often people hardly know what the Bible tells about certain issues. For example, ‘the Bible doesn’t say that women cannot be priests’, people occasionally assure me. When I point out a certain passage to the contrary in I Timothy, they look stunned.  Does their home have a Bible? I doubt it.

What about education? More of a million pupils are taught in about 4.700 Church of England schools. You would presume they learn about the Scriptures. Wrong presumption. The general ignorance of biblical knowledge in society indicate that isn’t so. When I was curate of St Mary Abbots Church, our primary school gave kids little Mickey Mouse bits and pieces but no real Bible teaching to speak of. I suspect that is so in most church schools. Deliberate policy, maybe. The Anglican Church no longer considers the Bible essential to her identity. Moreover, under secularism religion is suspect. Faith schools threaten the ungodly. They may breed ‘extremism’. Secularist extremism of course is kosher…

This year is the anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous 95 theses in 1517. That started the Protestant Reformation. The zealous monk Luther (hardly a perfect chap but…who is?) believed the Catholic Church had become corrupted and discredited by the accretion of doctrines and practices which were not biblical. So Luther restored the Scriptures’ rightful place at the heart of the Church’s life and beliefs. Whatever could not be proved by the Bible, or shown not to be based on it, was thrown out. King James I’s version-translation of the Bible enshrined that reform for future generations. A classic of the English language that is still delightful to read. Further, the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion provided clear guidance to Anglican clergy, both in worship and doctrine. The Protestant Bible became part and parcel of English cultural identity for centuries to come. ‘Scratch an Englishman, you find a Protestant’, wrote George Bernard Shaw.

Perversely, Western culture seeks to deconstruct that basic unit of society, the family. Gafkon’s defence of core family values as Christian, not to be weakened and undermined by injudicious state interference, marks it as bravely counter-cultural. It also constitutes a common ground with other religious traditions. From Islam to Judaism and Hinduism. At the Gafkon meeting in St James Church last night, Archbishop Peter Jensen gave the horrific instance of a Jewish Orthodox school being reprimanded by Ofsted, the idiotic body for pseudo standards in education, for not teaching kids as young as three enough about ‘diversity’ in sexual roles. Something is rotten in the state of England, as Hamlet might have said…

Gafkon clergy come from the Evangelical theological spectrum of the Church. As soon as I walked in, that was clear to me. Not a single dog collar in sight – Evangelicals don’t wear them. They are not into liturgical high jinks or ‘tat’ as the Anglo-Catholics. (Just as well I didn’t sport my cassock.) Sartorial matters apart, Anglican Evangelicals aren’t a bad lot. They are the Church of England’s last hope, perhaps. Whilst the Anglican panjandrums - disastrous figures like Carey, Williams, Sentamu, Welby, Chartres and their fellow criminals – have led the Church close to the abyss - steeper decline and apostasy - most Evangelicals have kept the banner of the faith flying. Bully for them!

Are the Gafkon people extremists? Trouble-makers? Archbishop Jensen invoked the terrific image of that great trouble-maker, the Prophet Elijah. On Mount Carmel he challenged the false prophets of Baal to a contest. And he called the people to choose. ‘If the Lord is the true God, follow him. But if Baal is the true God follow him.’ Then Elijah showed who was the One True God. And he slew the prophets of Baal. Tough? Yes, tough love but love nonetheless.

The Anglican Church must choose. Does she want to follows Baal, the idol of contemporary culture, or the Bible’s One True God? She’d better choose right…

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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